Moth Terror

I have killed the moth flying around my night light; wingless and dead it lies upon the floor.

(O who will kill the great time moth that eats holes in my soul and that burrows in and through my secretest veils!)

My will against its will, and no more will it fly at my night light or be hidden behind the curtains that swing in the winds.

(But O who will shatter the change moth that leaves me in rags—tattered old tapestries that swing in the winds that blow out of Chaos!)

Night moth, change moth, time moth, eaters of dreams and of me!

Benjamin De Casseres


Source: The Sun, Aug. 22, 1915, Section 3, Page 7



This is the earliest published version of De Casseres’ most well-known – or at least enduring – work of literature. It was included in his first book, The Shadow-Eater, in 1915, and was anthologized in The Second Book of Modern Verse, edited by Jessie B. Rittenhouse, a friend and colleague of De Casseres. It has since been anthologized in a number of other volumes, as well.

The version that was included in The Shadow-Eater and subsequent volumes contains a few textual differences. Primarily, in the collected version, the names of the moths are capitalized and hyphenated throughout, as is the title. Additionally, where there seems to be stanza breaks after each parenthetical line in the original, there are no such stanza breaks in the collection versions.

  • Moth Terror > MOTH-TERROR
  • time moth > Time-Moth
  • night light > night-light
  • change moth > Change-Moth
  • chaos! > Chaos!
  • Night moth, change moth, time moth > Night-moth, Change-Moth, Time-Moth